Pleasure center  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pleasure center is the general term for the set of brain structures, predominantly the nucleus accumbens, theorized to produce great pleasure when stimulated electrically. Some references state that the septum pellucidium is generally considered to be the pleasure center while others mention the hypothalamus when referring to pleasure center for intracranial stimulation.

Rodent experiments

Olds & Milner's rats

The pleasure center was discovered in the 1950s by two brain researchers named James Olds and Peter Milner who were investigating whether rats might be made uncomfortable by electrical stimulation of certain areas of their brain, particularly the limbic system. In the experiment, an electrical current was given to rats if they entered a certain corner of a cage, with the hypothesis that they would stay away from that corner if the effect was uncomfortable. Instead, they came back quickly after the first stimulation and even more quickly after the second. In later experiments, they allowed the rats to press the stimulation lever themselves, to the effect that they would press it as much as seven-hundred times per hour. This region soon came to be known as the "pleasure center".

Rats in Skinner boxes with metal electrodes implanted into their nucleus accumbens will repeatedly press a lever which activates this region, and will do so in preference over food and water, eventually dying from exhaustion. In rodent physiology, scientists reason that the medial forebrain bundle is the pleasure center of rats. If a rat is given the choice between stimulating the forebrain or eating, it will choose stimulation to the point of exhaustion.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pleasure center" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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